MPs explore the effect on family law of Brexit

Family Law | 21 Dec 2016 8

The parliamentary Justice Committee has begun hearing evidence from lawyers as the members continue their enquiry into the legal implications of Brexit.

Launched in the autumn, the enquiry is designed to explore the complex legal issues that will need to be addressed during the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Lawyers who have addressed the Committee at the House of Commons have warned of major problems ahead, saying Brexit could disrupt family law proceedings and cause problems for foreign-born families living in the UK as well as British families living elsewhere in the EU.

A spokesman for family law organisation Resolution explained that:

“Brexit is going to have a huge effect on family law, especially for those families whose parents are of different EU nationalities. In 2015 some 27.5 per cent of children born in England and Wales had a foreign mother. There will also be implications for British expat families living in the EU unless agreements are reached to protect them.”

Currently, he explained, divorces granted in one member state are automatically recognised in others (with the exception of Denmark) and the appropriate jurisdiction for family issues involving more than one member state is clearly determind by European Council regulation (EC) 2201/2003, commonly known as Brussels IIA or Brussels II Revised.

If Brussels II no longer applies following Britain’s departure from the EU, the appropriate jurisdiction for every multinational case will have to be decided on a case-by-case basis, and this could prove very costly for the families involved, he explained. And there would be no guarantee, the spokesman continued, that any decisions reached within English courts would be recognised in the other country.

Meanwhile, the London Solicitors Litigation Association warned that:

“The outcome of the referendum of 23 June 2016 creates uncertainties that have the potential to damage London as a global centre for litigation if not proactively managed and addressed.”

The Associated added:

“There must be a real risk that the issues facing the London litigation market will not be at the top of the Government’s list of issues that have to be addressed in light of the vote.  The LSLA’s position is that they should be; there is no question that international litigation conducted in London generates significant tax and other revenues for the UK, as does the use of English law.”

In order to preserved the jurisdiction of the English courts in international cases, The Association urged the government to consider a reciprocal treaty with the EU similar to that currently in place for Denmark, which has semi-independent status. In addition, it claimed the UK should independently sign the Lugano II Convention, in order to secure its relationship with Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway, which are members of the European Free Trade Area but not full members of the EU.

Read more here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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    1. Andrew says:

      I think you mean “the effect on family law of Brexit” – not the other way round as you have it!

    2. John says:

      Great to read about these developments and keen to know what happens next.

    3. JamesB says:

      It seems to me that, given the public’s rejection of the status quo with the referendum result, that things such as this should be subject to more scrutiny, especially given the reduction in the number of people getting married in this country, increase in people doing their own thing, sharia, beth din courts, etc, and excess of discretion and disparity between regional counts.

      A proper (rather than judicial stitch up) review of family law, including child maintenance and social security is required.

    4. JamesB says:

      On second thoughts, please don’t. I say that as all of the Governments interventions in the field over the last 80 years, even if well intentioned (probaly not, probably feminist inspired) have made things worse and probably best they stay well clear. If they really want to do anything increase the divorce fee and cms percentages amounts plus make pre nups legal. That the law commission advised that and the Government hasnt done it is also out of order.

      The divorce as an industry intonation of the article unless I misread it is a bad approach as it should not be encouraged or regarded as an industry as to do so is to undermine marriage.

    5. JamesB says:

      Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

      • Marilyn Stowe says:

        To you and yours everywhere. A Merry christmas and many thanks to all our readers contributors editorial staff and Bolchy.
        Much love to you all

    6. JamesB says:

      I meant reduce the cms percentages and implement pre nups above.

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